Leesville man will be resentenced in robbery

Published 4:53 pm Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A Leesville man convicted of robbing a woman in the parking lot of a Vernon Parish hospital will be up for resentencing after the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the sentences imposed last year by Judge C. Anthony Eaves.

Michael Trenzell Harris was convicted in February 2020 after a jury unanimously found him guilty of attempted carjacking and simple burglary of a woman in the parking lot of Byrd Hospital on June 9, 2019.

According to court records, the victim testified she had gone to the hospital around midnight that day to seek medical treatment. As she parked her car in the parking lot, the woman said a man later identified as Harris pulled open her car door and grabbed her by the arm while climbing inside the vehicle.

The woman said she screamed and struggled with Harris during the incident, getting the attention of others near the hospital. Before Harris could flee the area, he was detained by a security guard.

Following a two-day trial, a jury returned an unanimous guilty verdict on both charges against Harris on Feb. 12, 2020.

On March 6, Harris’ legal team filed a motion for a new trial, and on June 3 the trial court denied that motion. On the same day, Harris was sentenced to five years for the carjacking conviction and six years for the simple burglary conviction, to run concurrently.

The appellate court, however, vacated that sentencing this month saying the court did not allow the appropriate amount of time between denying Harris’ motion for a new trial and sentencing. The court cited Louisiana criminal law codes that require 24 hours between a motion being overruled and sentencing.

“In the case before us, the defendant did not expressly waive the twenty-four hour delay required by Article 873,” the Third Circuit’s opinion reads.

For that reason, the appellate court vacated the sentence and will return it to the Vernon Parish court for a new sentencing on both convictions.

The convictions themselves will remain in place.